Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans police released surveillance video of a masked man trying to rob a gas station Sunday night at the corner of Jackson and Magazine in the Lower Garden District.

The video shows the robber carrying what appears to be real or replica H&K MP7 assault rifle into the store and demanding money.

The robber sees the bullet resistant glass between him and the cashier. The door behind the counter is locked. So, the robber takes off, empty handed.

'Real or fake, it's a very intimidating looking weapon,' said NOPD Sixth District Lt. Frank Young.

Police say quick action by the cashier also helped fend off the robbery.

'He told the perpetrator that he saw him approaching with a weapon and had already notified the police,' said Young.

The gas station owner, who did not want to be identified, said he's glad he took the proper precautions to protect the safety of his employee.

'It's a shame, we have to take precautions and these things happen,' he said. 'I'm glad I was prepared for it. These things cannot be avoided because there are people who want fast money, easy money and think this is the way. They're lazy people I guess.'

This is the latest in an apparent string of crimes involving assault rifles in New Orleans.

But, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, there is a relatively small number of these types of guns on the streets of the city.

'The last 12 month period we have traced 1,308 firearms that were recovered in the city of New Orleans and of those only 35 to 40 are actually rifles,' said ATF Special Agent in Charge Phillip Durham.

Durham says groups of young people appear to be sharing the guns as 'community weapons.'

'Guns are stored in one location. The individuals who run around in this little group will know where the guns are kept. Some are kept in abandoned houses. Some are hidden under houses. The problem is when they are utilized in crimes, it is very violent and multiple people end of getting injured.'

So far, the NOPD does not have any leads on a possible suspect in gas station attempted armed robbery. But investigators admit that it's hard to make out his description from the video.

'This gentleman was masked up over face,' Young said. 'He had a hat over his head. He was wearing long sleeves. We're hoping by releasing the video that someone he is familiar with him will recognize his mannerisms.'

If you have any information that can help solve this crime call CrimeStoppers at 504-822-1111.

To report illegal weapons you are urged to call the ATF's toll free hotline: 1-800-ATF-GUNS.

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